Tuesday, May 28, 2019

My First Murph


I'm always up for a challenge.

I'm also a proud American with an overwhelming amount of patriotism, and have a strong tie to all things military.

I'd first heard of the Murph a year ago, and had kind of forgotten about it. Then, with it being Memorial Day Weekend, I started seeing all sorts of pics and posts about it. Not one (usually) to sit quietly on the sidelines, I wanted in.

As luck (or Fate?) would have it, a local friend, who just happens to be a CrossFit fanatic and instructor, extended an invite to the annual Murph workout at our local CrossFit gym. End of story.

The hubby and I didn't need to be asked twice; we both knew it was something we had to do on this significant holiday.


Briefly, Navy Seal Lt. Michael Murphy risked his life as he radioed for help in the mountains of Afghanistan (2005). This workout honors him, as well as all fallen heroes of uniform, and is a popular WOD (workout of the day) for CrossFit enthusiasts over Memorial Day Weekend.

The hubby and I arrived at the gym, and were immediately greeted and welcomed by several seasoned CF athletes and by Bill, our friend who is also one of the instructors/coaches. I was a little apprehensive, having never worked out in this kind of environment before, and the thought of 100 pull-ups was scary. Bill assured me this was all about working out together, and having fun, while honoring our fallen heroes. It was not about competition (though I later learned that participants usually record their finish times as a means of achievement).

Bill went over the three basic exercises we'd be doing (pull-ups, push-ups and squats), and lead the group in some warm-ups and a short jog outside, around a few of the city blocks downtown. He recommended breaking down the reps into smaller groups (for example, sets of 10/20/30). He also highly encouraged modifying the moves to allow for full range of motion instead of succumbing to bad/compromised form as our bodies fatigued. Oh, and there was the option to do all (or some) of these with a weighted vest!

After a few minutes to set up our stations, we all headed outside for the 1-mile run. Earlier, we'd had a few intermittent rain showers, but (at that particular moment) the rain was MIA. I made it back to the gym, used the restroom, and headed over to the pull-up bar.

Ugh. I'm not afraid of push-ups (though I've never done 200 of them in such a short time span), and squats are a no-brainer (even with the high quantity on tap). But the pull-ups were fricking scary to me. Bill had demonstrated using the (approximate) waist-high bar and angling one's body underneath. I assumed said position, and was able to do 15 pull-ups pretty easily! Granted, these were considered "assisted pull-ups," but they were pull-ups none the less. Feeling much more confidant about the pull-up situation, I got up and let the hubby have his turn.

As he was doing his reps, I got down on the floor and did 20 quick push-ups. With the humid air, the crowd of Murphers (there were 25-30 of us) and the large garage door open (for air flow, I assume)....it was pretty warm. I was already breaking a substantial sweat.

Next came the first set of squats. After doing the pull-ups and push-ups, "simple" air squats never felt so easy.

I did another set of assisted pull-ups, and could already tell they were feeling a bit tougher. The next set of push-ups were alright, though. The squats were still feeling somewhat easy, but I had a major sweat going. I grabbed my water and drank several sips as I walked around and searched for a couple of towels.

It was refreshing to see such a mix of ages and skill levels, yet everyone seemed to be in sync as they did their own respective things. I was surprised more weren't wearing the #badass weighted vests (I think about 10 people were, some women and some men). It also was reassuring to see how many were modifying the moves, and these were experienced CF folk....proof at just how tough all these moves were for all of us, especially as the morning wore on.

As the workout continued, (as predicted) the moves got more challenging. I could tell my pull-ups weren't as smooth and fluid as they were when I started. The push-ups were progressively getting harder, so I did some on an incline and some on my knees. The squats were still the easiest move, but even they were feeling more strained. And the perspiration was draining out of me like a faucet.

Since I have a 20K race happening on Saturday, I decided it wasn't in my best interest to do all 300 squats. Even though I was varying the kinds of squats (sumo, standard, etc.), 300 was a pretty aggressive number, even with several days to recover before my race. I decided to call it good at 150.

 As for the push-ups, I tried varying those as well, but my shoulders and arms were really starting to hurt. I'd made it past the halfway point (which was 100), but after the next 30, I white-flagged those as well.

Ironically, I was able to finish out the 100 pull-ups, though. Yes, they all were assisted pull-ups, but for a gal who has never really been able to do a single "perfect" pull-up, I'm pretty pleased with what I accomplished on that pull-up bar on such a hot and humid morning.

I wound up running the final mile on one of the treadmills. Yes, you read that correctly. The hit-and-miss rain decided to make an appearance as I was going through my final set of reps. Although the rain probably would have felt great on my already saturated body, I opted to just keep it inside and finish on the 'mill.

Since I didn't realize people were timing themselves until after the fact, I'm not sure of my exact finish time. I know it was less than an hour, though...probably in the 50-55 minute range. I'm totally pleased with that.

Some final thoughts:
***The Murph is tough (as it should be). It's not meant to be an easy, uneventful WOD (as if they exist LOL). It's a challenging endeavor, but not impossible.
***Although I'm not really into CrossFit, I am familiar with the format and some of the moves. It was nice to see that I could hold my own among all the others there.
***I really appreciated the supportive environment. Although I already knew several of the people there, I was still the token "nonmember." That said, I never felt like an intruder. Numerous people came up to me and encouraged me throughout the workout, and fist-bumped (and congratulated) me after we'd finished.
***Even though I didn't complete all 200 push-ups or all 300 squats, I still feel like a champion for what I DID accomplish. Had I not had the upcoming race, I probably would have pushed on and tried to finish everything. I just didn't think it was worth the risk this time, on my first Murph attempt.

If you'd like more information on the Murph Challenge, you can check it out HERE...

So, that's another bucket list thing I can mark as done (but, truthfully, now that I've done Murph once, I can see myself doing it every year).

Have you heard of the Murph Challenge? Would you ever consider doing it?

I'm linking this with Kim and Zenaida for the Tuesday Topics Link-Up


22 comments:

  1. Wow - well done for holding your own in that, I'm very very impressed!!

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    1. I was pretty happy how well I actually did, though I'm definitely feeling the DOMS today ;-)

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  2. I've seen this workout for a few years on social media but I've also been way to scared to do it because of the pull ups - I don't even think I could do 5 non assisted pull ups! But now that I know it can be modified, I think I will try to do it next year!

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    1. Oh gosh, modification is the key! I didn't realize the modifications were allowed, but that certainly opens the doors to many more of us participating!

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  3. Good for you. I am impressed.

    I can do even one pull up so i'm out!

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    1. But you can modify them! Some were even using rings (anchored with ropes/tethers) and doing moves with them that "simulated" the pull-up move. I got the impression that this workout was more about supporting the cause and paying tribute to Memorial Day, and everyone participated as best they could.

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  4. Way to go for doing your first Murph. I missed it this year but last year did it. Such fun!

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    1. Indeed it was fun...but holy crap, it was tough! I'm glad I challenged myself to do it ;-)

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  5. Way to go! This sounds really tough. I'm with you on the pull ups, that's definitely the one that would have intimidated me out of this list of exercises. To be honest, cross fit in general has always sounded really intimidating. It's nice that they were all so supportive.

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    1. The group was very supportive! I can usually get along with most anyone, but it's intimidating walking into a setting where you're not part of the group. Thankfully, I felt welcomed and not excluded ;-)

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  6. Will you go back to CrossFit? Work on those pull ups? That's my goal for this year. One strict pull up. For Murph, I did banded pull ups (using an elastic band).

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    1. For now, I'll probably just work on the pull-ups on my own. We have a pull-up bar on our swing set, so I can utilize that. I do plan to make pull-ups a regular part of my regimen, though, as well as more focused strength work on my back. I'm DOMS'ing everywhere today....

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  7. Congrats on the Murph! I bet you'll be back for more. Such a great way to honor our fallen heros.

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    1. It was such an awesome experience! Totally tough, but I felt it was a small sacrifice in my comfort to pay tribute to those who have sacrificed so much more. And, YES, I plan to make this an annual endeavor ;-)

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  8. Awesome job! I thought about giving it a try but I know for sure I can't do 200 pull ups or push ups. I love that you made it work!

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    1. I was really surprised I was able to do the 100 pull-ups, albeit they were all "assisted." I plan to work on those in the next year, so when I go back in 2020, I can hopefully do some of them unassisted.

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  9. We did a Murph last year- boy did it wipe me out! Good for you for getting it done!

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    1. I felt alright that day, but the next morning the Murph DOMS were killer.

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  10. Way to go! Proud of you girl. If I were in better shape than maybe I would attempt to do it but not now. :-)

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    1. You could probably do some of the workout....they were really supportive and encouraging to everyone to do what they could, even if the moves needed to be modified.

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  11. Thank you for taking time to honor Murph for Memorial day!
    I have so many friends who do the challenge, and it makes my heart proud to be an American!
    Hope the soreness has worn off and you crush your upcoming race!

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  12. That's awesome that they were so welcoming. I'm not sure I'd ever do CrossFit, but if I did it would be with a buddy. Congrats

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